Ainos (modern Enez) Turkey

Enez, province of Edirne

In order to understand the exceptional destiny of this city, we are carrying out interdisciplinary research, within the framework of international cooperation, aimed at reconstructing the evolution of the landscapes at the mouth of the Hebra River.

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Institutional Partners

AOROC - UMR8546-CNRS/ENS CNRS - Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique DFG,  Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft, ENEZ- AINOS, Turquie Institut français d’Études anatoliennes, Istanbul MAE, Ministère des Affaires Etrangères, France Ministère de la culture, Ankara, Turquie PSL  - Paris Sciences et Lettres | université de recherche Université de Cologne Université de Göttingen Université de Kiel

See also the 3D vidéo : “ Ainos 480 BC: hypothetical reconstruction of the SE Thracian coast at the beginning of the second Persian invasion of Greece

Ainos 480 BC - YouTube
Ainos 480 BC - YouTube

The participants

- Anca Dan, Michel Dabas : AOrOc, CNRS, ENS-PSL
- Mattéo Tanghe, infographist freelance, AOrOc
- Şahan Kırçın, Sait Başaran : Turkish Ministry of Culture at Ankara, General Directorate of Archaeology, Enez excavations and Edirne Museum.
- Helmut Brückner: Cologne University, Institute of Geography
- Wolfgang Rabbel,Ercan Erkul: Kiel University, Marine Science
- Lyudmila Shumilovskikh: Göttingen University, Department of Palynology and Climate Dynamics.

- SPP 1630 Harbours/Häfen de la DFG : The Thracian harbour city Ainos in Roman and Byzantine times - the development of a traffic hub in a changing environment.
- Legecartas du CNRS: LEctures GÉoarchéologiques des CARTes AncienneS (2017-2019)

The project

Ainos/Enez is an ancient Thracian, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Genovese, Ottoman and Turkish city in the Eastern Mediterranean, on the modern frontier between Turkey and Greece. However, human presence on the promontory to the south of the delta of the Hebros (modern Maritza/Meriç) River could go back to ca. 6000 years. For a better understanding of Ainos’ past, an international team cooperates in a multidisciplinary project under the authority of the Turkish representatives of the Ministry of Culture. Their aim is to reconstruct the evolution of the environment at the mouths of the Hebros during the Holocene. By combining the data obtained from geoelectric and geomagnetic surveys, sedimentological and palaeobiological analyses of 14C-dated drill cores as well as archaeological excavations, we hope to put together a 4D GIS database, with a detailed reconstruction of Ainos’ urban and suburban topography and environs throughout the ages.

- H. Brückner, "Geoarchäologie - in Forschung und Lehre", in H.-R. Bork, H. Meller, R. Gerlach (eds.), Umweltarchäologie - Naturkatastrophen und Umweltwandel im archäologischen Befund. 3. Mitteldeutscher Archäologentag vom 07. bis 09. Oktober 2010 in Halle (Saale). Tagungen des Landesmuseums für Vorgeschichte Halle (Saale), 6, 2011, p. 9-20.

For the public interested in the visualisation of the past, two successive projects (SPP 1630 Harbours/Häfen of the DFG and Legecartas of CNRS) allowed us to propose a preliminary, still very hypothetical scenario of the environmental evolution of Ainos, by comparing the present day situation to four important time slices:

  • 1. During the Chalcolithic (5th-4th millennium BC), when the first people seem to have inhabited – at least for some time – the site of Ainos, during that time a small island in one of the biggest gulfs of the northern Aegean.
  • 2. At the end of the Archaic period, between the 6th and the 5th centuries BC., when the Persian army of Xerxes, coming from Aeolis towards Greece, occupied the peninsula of Ainos to the south-west of the Hebros Delta. Like other north-Aegean cities, Ainos won back its freedom in the second quarter of the 5th century BC, thanks to the help of the Athenians, who had significant commercial interests in the region.
  • 3. In early Roman imperial times, when Strabo and Pliny the Elder wrote the most ancient descriptions (partially preserved to our days) of the two mouths of the Hebros River and of Ainos, the city which controlled them.
  • 4. By the end of the 18th century, when the Earl of Choiseul-Gouffier made the first geographical measures for a modern map of the European parts of Turkey.

It is important to note that the preliminary scenarios of the environmental evolution of the Ainos region – based on historical maps, Turkish archaeological excavations (directed by Sait Başaran since 1993) and German geoarchaeological surveys and drills (directed by Helmut Brückner and Wolfgang Rabbel since 2011) – are still conjectural in many parts; they will be improved during the next campaigns. Nonetheless, these first sketches have a heuristic value and help to put the as yet existing knowledge in a simple and coherent shape. They also force us to fill the gaps – for example when suggesting the trajectories of the terrestrial, fluvial and maritime paths, Ainos’ water management as well as its frontiers between the Aegean Sea and the Thracian hinterland.

The tools

For the reconstruction of the historical maps, Michel Dabas and Mattéo Tanghe used Qgis and Global Mapper, two programs through which they changed the present day elevation and water levels by taking into account the geomorphological results of Helmut Brückner and the historical documents of Anca Dan. The page layout was made with Inkscape. For transforming the 2D satellite image into 3D, Mattéo Tanghe used the heightmap technique on SRTM (Shuttle Radar Topography Mission) layers obtained from NASA and NGA. Next, Mattéo Tanghe used Unreal Engine and completed the 3D environment with a vegetation pattern inspired from the palaeobotanical reconstructions of Lyudmila Shumilovskikh. In order to stage Xerxes’ campaign to Greece through Ainos and Doriskos in 480 BC, Mattéo Tanghe drew historical objects (ships, streets) with Blender, and finally assembling this experimental video with Kdenlive.


- S. Başaran, “Zum Straßennetz um Ainos”, P. Scherrer, H. Täuber, H. Thür (eds), Steine und Wege. Festschrift für Dieter Knibbe zum 65. Geburtstag, Wien, 1999, p. 343-348.
- S. Başaran, Enez (Ainos), Istanbul, 2011.
- A. Yeşil, A. Uzun, S. Başaran, A. Aksu, Enez. Its Natural, Cultural, and Touristic Beauties, Istanbul, 2017.
- Th. Schmidts, M.M. Vučetić (eds.), Häfen im ersten Millennium AD. Bauliche Konzepte, herrschaftliche und religiöse Einflüsse: RGZM-Tagungen, 22, Mainz, 2015 (ISBN 978-3-88467-249-5).
- H. Brückner, Th. Schmidts, H. Bücherl, A. Pint, M. Seeliger, “Die Häfen und ufernahen Befestigungen von Ainos – eine Zwischenbilanz”, in Th. Schmidts, M.M. Vučetić (eds.), Häfen im ersten Millennium AD. Bauliche Konzepte, herrschaftliche und religiöse Einflüsse: RGZM-Tagungen, 22, Mainz, 2015 (ISBN 978-3-88467-249-5), p. 53-76.
- W. Rabbel, D. Wilken, T. Wunderlich, S. Bödecker, H. Brückner, J. Byock, C. von Carnap-Bornheim, H. Kennecke, M. Karle, S. Kalmring, S. Messal, Th. Schmidts, M. Seeliger, M., Segschneider, D. Zori, “Geophysikalische Prospektion von Hafensituationen – Möglichkeiten, Anwendungen und Forschungsbedarf”, in Th. Schmidts, M.M. Vučetić (eds.), Häfen im ersten Millennium AD. Bauliche Konzepte, herrschaftliche und religiöse Einflüsse: RGZM-Tagungen, 22, Mainz, 2015 (ISBN 978-3-88467-249-5), p. 323-340.
- M. Seeliger, A. Pint, P. Frenzel, P.K. Weisenseel, E. Erkul, D. Wilken, T. Wunderlich, S. Başaran, H. Bücherl, M. Herbrecht, W. Rabbel, Th. Schmidts, N. Szemkus, H. Brückner, “Using a multi-proxy approach to detect and date a buried part of the Hellenistic city wall of Ainos (NW Turkey)”, Geosciences, 8.20, 2018, 357, doi:10.3390/geosciences8100357.
- M. Schwardt, D. Köhn, T. Wunderlich, D. Wilken, M. Seeliger, Th. Schmidts, H. Brückner, S. Başaran, W. Rabbel, “Characterisation of silty to fine‐sandy sediments with SH‐waves: full waveform inversion in comparison to other geophysical methods”, Near Surface Geophysics 18.3, 2020, 217-248,
- A. Dan, S. Başaran, H. Brückner, E. Erkul, A. Pint, W. Rabbel, L. Shumilovskikh, D. Wilken, T. Wunderlich, “Ainos in Thrace: Research Perspectives in Historical Geography and Geoarchaeology”, Anatolia Antiqua 27, 2019, 127-144.
- A. Dan, S. Başaran, H. Brückner, E. Erkul, A. Pint, W. Rabbel, L. Shumilovskikh, M. Tanghe, D. Wilken, T. Wunderlich, « Nouvelles recherches historiques et géoarchéologiques à Ainos : pour une première restitution graphique de la ville et du territoire antique », in « Bulletin de la société française d’archéologie classique (XLX, 2018-2019) », Revue archéologique 69, 1/2020, 141-191 (p. 152-162).